You were in a car accident. You need to file an insurance claim, and you want to make sure you receive a fair outcome.
So, how should you deal with an insurance adjuster? Here are 10 tips from the car accident attorneys at the Whitley Law Firm:
Tip #1: Understand the Role of the Insurance Adjuster
First and foremost, it is important to understand what an insurance adjuster actually does. Insurance adjusters are tasked with investigating accidents and determining how much (if anything) the company is obligated to pay.
The insurance adjuster assigned to your claim works for the insurance company, not for you. As a result, the adjuster’s role is not to help you file a successful claim, but rather to ensure that the insurance company pays as little for the car accident as possible.
Tip #2: Get Prepared Before You File Your Claim
Before you file an accident claim with your insurance company, you will want to be prepared. This means making sure you have all of the information you need to start the claims process.
It also means knowing what not to say to the insurance adjuster. At this point, you need to be very careful to protect your legal rights, and you need to avoid mistakes that could delay or jeopardize the outcome of your claim.
Tip #3: Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement
One of the most common mistakes people make when dealing with insurance adjusters is agreeing to provide a recorded statement. While you want to create an official record of your accident claim, you also want to avoid saying anything on the record that the insurance company can use against you.
When you file your claim, your goal should be to provide the necessary information and only the necessary information. After you do this, you should get off the phone before the insurance adjuster talks you into making a bad decision. Insurance adjusters record every call and will try to use them against you if they can!
Tip #4: Avoid Confiding in “Your” Insurance Adjuster
This brings us to one of the most common misconceptions about insurance adjusters. As we said above, insurance adjusters work for insurance companies. This means that they have the insurance companies’ best interests in mind, not yours.
As such, while “your” insurance adjuster may try to make it seem like he or she is on your side, this is not the case. You need to avoid sharing any information that your insurance company doesn’t need to know and could have an adverse impact on your case.
Tip #5: Avoid Signing a Medical Release
After you file your insurance claim, the insurance adjuster may ask you to sign a medical release. You do not have to sign it, and you generally should not do so unless advised otherwise by your lawyer.
Medical releases give the insurance companies broad access to claimants’ medical histories. The insurance adjuster could use your medical records to try to argue that your injuries from the car accident are actually a preexisting condition. If this tactic succeeds, you may lose out on compensation you are rightfully owed.
Tip #6: Document Your Communications
Get in the habit of documenting any and all communications with the insurance adjuster. Keep all letters, emails, text messages, and voicemails, and take notes after any calls.
Taking thorough notes will help you keep track of the status of your claim. And, if you decide to hire a lawyer, your attorney will need to know everything that has happened with your claim to date.
Tip #7: Know Your Rights Under Your Policy
Do not rely on the adjuster to tell you upfront what your insurance will cover after an accident. Make sure you have a complete understanding of your auto insurance policy, from the right to select the repair shop to the right to original equipment manufacturer parts to the right to a rental car allowance and more.
Tip #8: Document Your Accident-Related Losses
Keeping in mind that the insurance adjuster’s job is to try to resolve your claim for as little as possible, it is up to you to document the costs you incur and the damages you sustain as a result of the car accident. If the other driver was at fault for the crash, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, pain and suffering, and more.
As you incur expenses, miss days from work, and struggle to cope with your injuries’ effects, it is important to keep records that prove how much you are entitled to recover. The insurance adjuster will not help you with this, so it is crucial to take the initiative and stay organized as your claim progresses.
Tip #9: Do Not Settle Without Legal Advice
If it is clear that you are entitled to financial compensation for the car accident (i.e., the fault of the other driver is obvious), the insurance adjuster may make you a settlement offer. If this happens, you should not accept the offer without first seeking legal advice.
The insurance company is unlikely to have sufficient information to calculate your losses accurately. This means that the settlement offer will only reflect a fraction of the total compensation you deserve.
Tip #10: Hire a Car Accident Lawyer to Represent You
Make no mistake: Successfully handling a car accident claim on your own is extremely difficult. Except in cases of minor damage and injury, it is generally in your best interest to have an experienced car accident lawyer deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
Not only can a car accident lawyer help you avoid critical mistakes in your claim, but your attorney will also be able to collect evidence of your losses and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Hiring a lawyer also shows the insurance company that you are serious about protecting your legal rights. This can drastically change how the insurance company handles your claim.
Most car accident victims make the mistake of assuming that the insurance company will treat them fairly. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Insurance adjusters frequently use a number of tricks to reduce the compensation paid to accident victims. Before you make a mistake, it is important to seek the help of a knowledgeable attorney.
The Whitley Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of people who have suffered serious harm as a result of car accidents. Our attorneys serve clients throughout North Carolina from offices in Raleigh, Kinston, and New Bern. You can count on us to provide the care you need when you are at your most vulnerable and fight for the compensation you deserve.